The Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 is a 7-inch Android tablet that joins the Nexus 7 2, the Kindle Fire HDX 7 as another affordable alternative to the iPad mini 2 Retina. It's born of a partnership between PC World and chip maker Nvidia, which is why it uses both the Advent branding from PC World and the Tegra name of Nvidia's mobile chip. Nvidia is no stranger to venturing beyond the realms of its graphics chip expertise as the Shield games console shows, but the Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 is still an unusual move and is the only sub-£200 tablet we know of that comes with a stylus.
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The tablet-making business is not new territory for Nvidia. Its Tegra 3 quad-core processor powered the original Nexus 7 and its newer Tegra 4 CPU can be found inside Android tablets like the Asus Transformer Pad TF701T. But this is the first time the company is taking a more active role in the design of the hardware and the software running on it to show there is more to Tegra 4 than smoother gaming and a zippier overall performance.
It’s easy to see where the Note 7 gets its design inspiration. It has a physical stature that makes it feel like a halfway house between the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 7 2. The black bezel around the 7-inch screen is thicker than the one on the newer Nexus and the decision to include dual front-facing stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the screen actually makes it around the same height. It's slightly thicker (10.45mm vs 9.6mm) and slightly heavier (320g vs 290g) than the Nexus 7 2, but not so much that it really matters.
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It looks quite different from the back, however. Along with the 5-megapixel main camera sensor there’s a dimpled soft touch plastic in the centre flanked by harder black plastic. While it’s not as slick-looking as the Nexus 7 2, it's very comfortable to hold and is actually very accommodating for single or two-handed use. While the 7-inch tablet designs on the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and the Tesco Hudl promote landscape use over portrait, the Note 7 works well in both positions.
This feeds into the layout of key ports as well. On the top edge you’ll find micro USB charging port, micro HDMI, headphone jack and on/off button; on the right edge you’ll find a Micro SD card slot and the volume rocker just below. The stylus is hidden away in a Galaxy Note-like compartment in the bottom corner so there’s less chance of losing it. They're all neatly positioned so that they don't interfere when you don't want them to.
Overall the Tegra Note 7 is a nice-looking tablet, but there's still one or two signs of its budget nature all the same. The back has a worrying creakiness to it and the micro SD card slot looks a bit untidy left exposed and is easy to run a finger against it when reaching for the volume rocker. These are relatively minor issues, though.
Advent Vega Tegra Note 7: Screen
Of greater import is the screen. The Note 7 features a 1280 x 800 resolution IPS display matching the screen specs of the original Nexus 7, but lagging behind the 1,920 x 1,200 resolution on the Nexus 7 2. The 216ppi pixel density means it's lacking in the clarity department in comparison to the new Nexus (323 ppi)
If this was a tablet launched a year ago, we’d be more forgiving of a screen of this quality. It’s not terrible but the truth is, it pales in comparison to the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Nexus 7 2 both of which prove you can deliver an exceptionally sharp and vibrant display on a cheap tablet.
Text is far from crisp, colours in videos often look pale and washed out and white have a slightly warm, yellowish hue. You have the option to adjust the Colour Correction preset in Display settings from sRGB to Native to produce more consistent colours, but it’s very difficult to see a difference when you switch between the two.
It’s not the brightest 7-inch screen we’ve laid seen, either. It’s a little reflective to use outdoors and you can begin to notice the visible lines that comprise the capacitive touch system. This all combines to make the Tegra Note 7's screen a shade disappointing given it costs about the same as the Nexus 7 2, so it needs to impress in other areas to make up for it.
As noted above, the Note 7 is unusual for having two forward firing stereo speakers. The Kindle Fire HDX 7 and HDX 8.9 have set the standard for tablet speaker quality and while the Note 7’s speakers are loud and bassy, it lacks the same level of clarity and directional sound qualities of the Amazon tablets. It’s more than suitable for gaming and video viewing, however, and is definitely among the better Android tablets out there.